Delve into the past to understand the present — and make a positive impact on the future.

Africana Studies encompasses centuries of history and culture — from the first African and European American relationships to modern day diaspora studies. Our students are intellectually curious and socially aware. They focus on issues of race, gender and class and leave ready to use their knowledge to improve their communities.

Our program challenges students to think critically, analyze complex data, and master research technology — a firm foundation for successful careers or future graduate study.

Program Requirements

Students in Africana Studies (AST) study four major areas:

  • African and European American relationships beginning in the sixteenth century
  • African American community building: the establishment and organization of economic, educational, religious, and cultural institutions focused on Black self-determination
  • Women in the African diaspora: US, Caribbean, African, Afro-Brazilian, Afro-European
  • Africanity and diaspora studies in the Americas, Africa, and Europe

Major in Africana Studies

This course of study is for students who want to pursue a liberal arts major in Africana Studies. Students who anticipate professional careers or graduate study in liberal arts should consider this major track. The major requires 36 semester hours, comprising the following:

  • AST 101 Introduction to Africana Studies
  • AST 102 Black Cultures in U.S. Society
  • AST 240 African American Intellectual and Political History

Eight semester hours contributing to an interdisciplinary knowledge of Africana studies, no more than four hours of which may be taken in any one department. Courses that count toward the satisfaction of this requirement include:

  • AST 210 Sisters of the African Diaspora
  • AST/SOCI 249 Inequality: Race, Class, and Gender in Comparative Settings
  • AST 275 Soul, Funk, and Civil Rights
  • AST 300 Seminar in Selected Topics in Africana Studies
  • AST 313 The Black Struggle for Schooling in the United States
  • AST/SOCI/WGST 365 Intimate Family Violence: A Multicultural Perspective
  • AST 388 Black Popular Culture and the Education of Black Youth
  • ENGL 163 African Influences in American Literature and Culture
  • ENGL 176 African American Fiction
  • ENGL 275 American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance
  • POLS 215 The Politics of Exclusion
  • POLS 242 Government and Politics of Africa

Eight semester hours of electives. Courses listed under the "interdisciplinary knowledge" requirement may count as electives only if they are not counted toward the satisfaction of the "interdisciplinary knowledge" requirement.

Other electives are:

  • ART 251 African Art: 3000 BC to the Present
  • ART 255 African American Art
  • ENGL 220 African American Autobiographies
  • HIST 210 The African American Experience from Colonial Times to the Present
  • HIST 213 Race and Ethnicity in U.S. History
  • POLS 211 The Politics of Cities

Eight semester hours from AST 350, AST 355, or AST 370.

Simmons has had a major in Africana studies for more than 20 years. The department also offers a major with a specialization in Africana women's studies and a minor in AST.

Minor Requirements

The AST minor requires AST 355 or AST 300, AST 101, AST 102, or AST 240, and three additional courses at the 200 or 300 level.

Customize Your Program

Many of our students tailor their studies to their interests and career goals by adding minors or double majoring. Some common areas of focus that complement Africana Studies include:

  • Humanities, such as literature, film, journalism or communications
  • Social sciences, like research, public policy, or health care
  • Physical sciences, including environmental studies
  • Interdisciplinary studies, commonly women's studies, management, or education

Students interested in dual-degree programs, double-majors or self-designed majors can consult with department faculty to design an individualized program.

A minor in Africana Studies is also for available for those outside the major. The minor requires:

  • AST 355 Senior Thesis
    or AST 300 Seminar in Selected Topics in Africana Studies

One course from:

  • AST 101 Introduction to Africana Studies
  • AST 102 Black Cultures in U.S. Society
  • AST 240 African American Intellectual and Political History

And three additional courses at the 200 or 300 level.

Internships and Research

Internships are available for all interested students. We also encourage students to study abroad and learn modern language skills to broaden their understanding of world cultures.

    Janie Ward
    • Janie Ward
    • Professor and Chair Education and Africana Studies
    • Phone: 617-521-2255
    • Office: W304C
    Theresa Perry
    Default Profile Image
    • Dawna Thomas
    • Associate ProfessorSociology and Women's and Gender Studies
    • Phone: 617-521-2539
    • Office: W303D
How to Apply
So you know that Simmons is a great place to be, you've learned about our programs, maybe even come for a you're ready to apply! Let's get started